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Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and Chamber Choir to Perform "Messiah" at Westminster Presbyterian

Chuck Duritsch
Communications and Media Manager
Dayton Performing Arts Alliance
Phone 937-224-3521 x1138

DAYTON, OH (November 26, 2013) -- On Sunday, December 22 at 6:30 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 125 North Wilkinson Street, Dayton, Music Director Neal Gittleman, the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Hank Dahlman Director, will present Handel’s Messiah.

Joining the Philharmonic are guest vocalists Caitlin Cisler, soprano; Ryu-Kyung Kim, mezzo-soprano; Ian José Ramirez, tenor; and Kenneth Stavert, baritone. Cisler performed in last season’s Viennafest: A New Year’s Eve’s Celebration and was a member of the 2012-13 Dayton Opera Artists-in-Residence program along with Ramirez and Stavert. This is Kim’s debut with the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance.

The greatest oratorio of all time was written in England by a German-born composer for a German-born monarch and debuted in Dublin, Ireland! Handel's Messiah, based on the birth, passion, and resurrection of Christ, eventually became one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music. Now, for many, the holiday just doesn't seem complete without hearing this uplifting sacred work in the deep, rich surroundings of a traditional cathedral.

It was 1741, and George Frideric Handel was drowning…financially and artistically. Two operas that he had recently written had flopped miserably, and it appeared that he would have to leave England. He needed a savior in the worst of all possible ways. A former collaborator advised him to drop opera for the oratorio form. That, coupled with an invitation from an Irish politician to participate in a sort of oratorio festival, led Handel to join with his collaborator friend and compose an oratorio about the birth and passion of Christ. Friendly advice and a timely invitation proved Handel’s salvation, making the name of the oratorio he’d composed, Messiah (which means "savior" or "liberator"), quite appropriate.

It seems eerily fitting that Messiah, Handel's first sacred, nondramatic oratorio, was the harbinger of his spate of oratorios that dealt with dramatized Old Testament stories or Christian writings dating from the early centuries of the Common Era that are not included in the Bible. Some critics believe that Handel allowed opera to influence the composition of Messiah, a theory that seems to enjoy historical confirmation; in Handel’s time, orchestras, soloists, and choirs performed Messiah in theaters more often than in churches. In three parts, Messiah relates the prophecy of a savior and his coming (e.g., "Behold, a virgin shall conceive;" "For unto us a child is born;" "Rejoice greatly"), his passion and resurrection (e.g., "And with His stripes we are healed;" "Hallelujah"), and his role in eternal life after death (e.g., "I know that my Redeemer liveth;" "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain").

Although this work speaks directly to the gospel message that the passion and resurrection celebrated at Easter make it the most important part of the church year, Handel’s Messiah finds eager acceptance at Christmas as well. With no distinguishable characters, the drama relies entirely on the communication of the story of Christ in words, as well as in the powerful, emotionally stirring, and at times heartbreakingly beautiful music of a composer for whom the oratorio proved a personal salvation.

Tickets for general admission seating are available at or (888) 228-3630. Ticket price is $28 for adults, $26 for seniors and $14 for students. Support is generously provided by the Harlamert Charitable Foundation


About the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance

The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance was formed in July 2012 as the result of a groundbreaking and innovative merger between the Dayton Ballet, the Dayton Opera, and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Together, they are the largest performing arts organization in the community, offering a tremendous variety of performance and education programs and setting a new standard for artistic excellence.  Dayton Performing Arts Alliance performances are made possible in part by Montgomery County and Culture Works, the single largest source of community funds for the arts and culture in the Miami Valley. The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance also receives partial funding from the Ohio Arts Council, a state agency created to foster and encourage the development of the arts and to preserve Ohio's cultural heritage. Funding from the Ohio Arts Council is an investment of state tax dollars that promotes economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohio residents.  The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance is proud to be one of five performing arts organizations in the country selected to receive a three-year "Music Alive" grant from New Music USA and the League of American Orchestras.  

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